8 September 2019: A Case for Big Wheel Lift, Biped Hinges, Automata Magazine


This has been a good week.

I’ve finished the case for Big Wheel Lift #1.  In addition to holding the Big Wheel Lift it has racks for a set of marbles and for the 110v battery pack.  I used it today to take Big Wheel Lift #1 to the Sikes Farmers Market with me…where it operates next to me while I play my street organ.  The case is virtually airtight, which means that no dust will get inside.

I’m in the process of hinging the joints on the biped for Inclined Slide #1.  I’ve yet to identify a ‘standard’ way of installing joints.  Perhaps it will always be on a case by case basis.  I try hard to build longevity into my automata.  Big Wheel Lift #1, which was completed just last month, has already cycled more than 23,000 marbles.  The cycles add up fast.  Everything in these little machines needs to be properly constructed…always with an eye on longevity.  The automata monkey on my street organ has cycled in excess of 1,000,000 times.  And that’s all hand crank work.

Big Screw is forming in my mind.  I believe that it will be the next automata in the Jim’s Gym series of exercise machines.

The September/October issue of Automata Magazine was published.  It’s a great issue…I really enjoy and value Automata Magazine.  In addition the Automata Magazine Forum has been introduced.  I hope that this forum becomes a viable conversation pit for all things automata.

Big Wheel Lift #1 Carrying Case

28 August 2019, One born, one into the trash.


I have discarded A Sunday Drive.  I simply could not focus enough continual enthusiasm.  Too many other automata kept poking their way around A Sunday Drive.  So I’ve thrown it away.  It’s in the garbage.  No different I guess than a painter painting over a failed painting.

And there has been a birth this week.  The biped for Inclined Slide #1 has emerged from a block of basswood.  It’s still in rough shape (as opposed to finished).  Shoulder hinges are installed.  I need to install ankle, knee, and hip hinges…and I need to make a test stand for this biped.

I am building a carry case for Big Wheel Lift #2.

Our weather here in Southern California has been a bit too warm…so I generally don’t work in the middle of the afternoon…but the rest of the time my studio is comfortable.

I don’t feel bad about discarding A Sunday Drive…I feel good.  I learned and I got some fresh ideas.  Good things.

Inclined Slide #1 Project Sheet

Big Wheel Lift #1:  Project Sheet, Detail Sheet

A Sunday Drive Project Sheet

The Inclined Slide Biped emerges 28 August 2019.

 

12 August 2019
110vac To Go


In 2016 I completed a 20 pipe street organ that I call Misty. Misty and I perform in public 2-4 times a month…it’s fun.  A side benefit are the tips that I receive…which I reinvest into my art projects (street organs and automata).  Sometimes I perform where it is crowded and noisy and sometimes I perform where it is calm and sedate.  I got the thought into my head that I would like to take an automata with me to these calm and sedate venues.

The problem…the show stopper…was that there was no convenient 110vac at these venues.  In July 2019 I completed Big Wheel Lift #1Big Wheel Lift was screaming at me that it wanted to come performing with me…so I started the task of locating a portable power source.

I ended up purchasing a FlePow portable power bank from Amazon…approx $80.00.  This is a neat little power bank that has two powered USB ports, and a 110 volt outlet.

Big Wheel Lift contains a 110vac 6 watt motor.  The FlePow portable power bank powers the Big Wheel Lift for 12+ hours before it needs recharging.  It has worked flawlessly now at three different venues.

Having Big Wheel Lift as part of my street organ playing performance has added depth to my performance.  People are fascinated with it.  Many stop and watch.  Some of them speak to me about Big Wheel Lift and automata in general.  All in all the power bank has been a great investment.

110vac To Go. Acquired August 2019.

31 July 2019
Back to the Biped


It’s Scissor Lift #2 that is the priority on my bench.  I gave up on it’s biped last year and commenced to create Big Wheel Lift #1.  The biped for Big Wheel Lift #1 has turned out well.  I like it.  Perhaps this copper leaf and patina process will become my default biped treatment…I don’t know yet.  

At any rate…I am now proceeding with the Scissor Lift #2 biped, which I expect to have completed within the week.  It has been created and primed (X2).  Only the copper leaf and patina remain to be done.

The Scissor Lift #2 biped Project Sheet is here.

The biped for Scissor Lift #2 is taking shape.

 

18 July 2019
I still have 10 complete digits


I feel very good about the encounter that I had with my bandsaw.  I did not lose my finger.  This was one of those lucky incidents.  I don’t call it an accident because it wasn’t.  I could have avoided this if I had been thinking more alertly.  So, it was an incident that was my fault.  I wasn’t cutting…I was cleaning the blade.  The “bugger bar” got caught by the blade and pulled my finger into the blade.  And then it jammed and stopped the blade…which caused my finger to remain intact.  I am very fortunate…and I am rethinking how I approach my tools (both power and hand).

Big Wheel Lift #1 is complete.  Now I move to showing it and marketing it.

I am currently finishing the biped for Scissor Lift #2…am about 1/3 done.  I like the way that the copper leaf and patina turned out on Big Wheel Lift #1 so am repeating that process for Scissor Lift #2.

Then A Sunday Drive is going to take priority on my bench.  A Sunday Drive is a one off…and should be fun.  No rolling marbles…just a lazy Sunday drive in a cute little red Volkswagen convertible.

Fortunately I still have 10 complete digits. 15 July 2019.

 

11 July 2019
Completed


Big Wheel Lift #1 is finally completed!  It runs beautifully.  All in all I am very pleased with this build and am pleased to announce completion.  I would be happy to accept a commission for Big Wheel Lift #2.  Big Wheel Lift #2 will be similar to #1 but will be more organic…smoother…and better.  My commission page is here..

The next project is the completion of Scissor Lift #2…the biped remains to be completed.  I like the copper leaf and patina (on Big Wheel Lift #1) and am going to treat the Scissor Lift #2 biped the same way.

Then A Sunday Drive will take the focus on my workbench…at least for a while.

Big Wheel Lift #1 completed 8 July 2019

 

6 July 2019
Big Wheel Lift #1 is Almost Completed


It has been a busy three weeks.  I’ve been disassembling and painting and reassembling Big Wheel Lift #1.  The Big Wheel Lift automata has gone back together very easily and I’ve powered 1,500 marbles through the machine with no incidents.  I like the paint job…however will not ever paint again like I did this one.  I’ve taken the time to learn about the Liquitex family of acrylics and will be using them in the future.  As a result of using the Liquitex Soft Body Acrylics, and gesso and varnish, I should end up with a better paint job and perhaps with less or equal effort.  We’ll see.  I’m done with Craft Acrylics.  They simply don’t cover reliably enough.  I want these machines to be the best that I can make them be.  The shift from Craft Acrylics to Liquitex will help me paint much better.

As soon as Big Wheel Lift #1 is completed (the next few days) I’ll complete the biped for Scissor Lift #2 (which will complete Scissor Lift #2).  Then it will be A Sunday Drive that occupies the primary spot on my bench for a while.

 

July 6, 2019: Big Wheel Lift #1 is almost complete.

 

13 June 2019
Sanding, Spraying, and Leafing


This past week has been a week of disassembly, sanding, spraying, and experimentation with metal (copper) leafing.

To the right you see an image of my drying rack.  What I’ve learned over the years is that being impatient with paint while it dries is wrong.  Paint must properly dry or there will be consequences later (always).  My default is 24 hours for primer between sanding and coats, and with enamel I let the final coat dry for four days before I attach it to the mechanism.

The Big Wheel Lift #1 Project Sheet is here.

I’ve been working a bit on A Sunday Drive.  I’ve identified (and then modified several times) the animation that I am looking for.  Right now this automata is not a priority.

The ceiling in my studio is the drying rack.

8 June 2019
It’s Time To Paint


Big Wheel Lift #1 has now lifted 9,101 marbles, about 5,000 of them under power.  The mechanisms are performing very reliably.  It’s time for paint!

During the disassembly process I photograph every step and then using a Google product called ‘Slides’ I prepare a record of the disassembly and I print it out and sleeve the pages and keep them in a 3 ring binder.  These disassembly images are important not only for the process of reassembly, but they are important when creating the next version of the Big Wheel Lift.

The painting process will be more fully documented in the weeks to come but is basically this:

  • Fill and sand everything, to 120.
  • Spray paint the 1st coat of primer (charcoal automotive) then sand to 220.
  • Spray the second coat of primer (grey automotive) then sand to 220
  • Spray final two+ coats of enamel on a few pieces.
  • Most all else is hand painted using acrylic paint.  I’ve not finalized the color pallette yet.
  • Some components are copper leafed.

As I have worried about how to finish my bipeds I’ve decided that I want them clad in copper leaf.  I received my shipment of copper leaf and the size and have begun experimenting.  I like what is happening and think that copper leaf will be a good biped solution.  I am also planning to copper leaf a couple of the drive components.

The Big Wheel Lift #1 Project Sheet is here.

I’ve done nothing with A Sunday Drive this past week.  All in good time.

At 9,101 marbles lifted, Big Wheel Lift #1 is ready for paint.

29 May 2019
First Life


Big Wheel Lift #1 began on my workbench early January 2019.  Yesterday, May 28th, it moved for the first time under electrical power…first life.  I’m pleased with this automata.  I like the way it moves.  It is reliable.  It is quiet.  It is fun to watch.  Lots going on.

Next steps are to run it through three to five thousand marble drops of testing, then disassembly for painting, then reassembly and final testing.  This is the #1 so it will not go to market.  All number ones belong to my wife.  If I create additional Big Wheel Lifts they will all be based on this #1, but none will be identical to it.  Each will be better than the last.

Enjoy this Big Wheel Lift #1 First Life video.  Captured with my Pixel 2XL.  Edited with KDenLive.  The Big Wheel Lift #1 Project Sheet is here.

 

Big Wheel Lift #1 is finally under power. A good day.